THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OFVOLUNTARY CHILD CARE ORGANISATIONS
helping charities help children
Why get involved withvoluntary and communitysector (VCS) representation?
Not everybody who has a stake in decisions can be present at meetingsabout these decisions. A representative can, therefore, be chosen toshare the views of those who cannot be present.When we talk about ‘representing the voluntary sector’ this implies awhole set of processes, which include:• Gathering the views of the sector • Taking the sector’s diverse views to strategic or decision makingforums• Feeding any comments or results back to the sector • Returning any reactions from the sector back to the forums.Ideally, the process should be on-going, transparent and democratic.
And in the voluntary andcommunity sector…?Where does representation happen? What are these forums?
But how to do it?
(please turn over)
Fact sheet 3
dened as the act
of standing in for people or groupsand speaking withauthority on their behalf; it is thestate or condition of
serving as an ofcial
delegate, agent or spokesperson.
First, what isrepresentation?
Potentially, the VCS may be represented at any meeting or committee where plans are made or decisions taken, though the degree to which this actually happens will vary from area to area. Theseforums can include Children’s Trust Boards, Local Strategic Partnerships and their sub-groups,neighbourhood forums and commissioning groups, among others
(please see the ECM Glossary of Terms
at www.ncvcco.org for denitions of these forums)
Why is it important for the VCS tobe represented at these forums?
Children, young peopleand families should beinvolved in the decisionsabout services that affectthem; often it is a statutoryrequirement and, moreimportantly perhaps, it justmakes sense. Traditionally,the VCS has been achampion of the children,young people and familieswho use their services. Italso has a strong history of service user involvementthat can provide routes toensure real participation in thedevelopment of local services.It is particularlyimportant to supportsmaller communitygroups to be heard inthese forums. Theyare less likely to havethe capacity to attendmeetings, but theyoften represent someof the most vulnerable,‘hard to reach’communities. It isimportant that they areenabled to share their experiences and that of their service users.Furthermore, children’s servicesare currently being restructured,including developing children’strusts. This means that each localarea will have to look at the servicesthat are currently being provided tochildren andyoung peopleto determinewhere thereis duplicationor gaps inprovisionand whereservices needto be changedor developed.
If VCS organisationswant to ensure thatthe interests of their service usersare considered andthe unique value of the services theyprovide is includedand funded, theymust have a voicein this process insome way.